THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
Steve Allsworth dissects a brilliant track from this legendary band with inspiring slide from Duane and cool regular solo from Dickey Betts.
STATESBORO BLUES WAS originally by blind willie Mctell and was effectively the starting point for Duane allman’s unbelievable bottleneck skills. In 1968, his brother Gregg went to visit him on his 22nd birthday, while he was recovering from a horse riding accident. Gregg brought along a bottle of Coricidin pills for his injury and the debut album by guitarist taj Mahal as a gift. In the intervening hours, Duane had poured the pills out of the bottle, washed off the label and was using it as a slide to play Statesboro blues (covered by taj Mahal). Gregg elaborates: “Duane had never played slide before, he just picked it up and started burnin’. He was a natural.” this song became a staple in one of the brothers’ original bands Hour Glass, and it was their two album releases that became the launch pad for Duane’s session career. It was an Hour Glass session at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals that caught the eye of studio owner rick Hall, who then hired the young Duane to work with wilson Pickett. It was his work on Hey Jude in particular that got him hired as a full-time session musician, working with such notable talents as King Curtis, aretha Franklin and Herbie Mann. He also caught the eye of eric Clapton, who later hired Duane to work with Derek and the Dominos. 1969-1970 saw slow process of forming what would become the allman brothers band. Duane’s unique vision for a two lead guitarist, two drummer band led to a sextet comprised of Jaimoe Johanson and butch trucks (uncle of Derek) on drums, bassist berry oakley, guitarist Dickey betts and Gregg on keys. Their first two albums, the allman brothers band (1969) and Idlewild South (1970) were both released amid intense touring, for which the band became infamous. Soon after a show date in Miami with the allman brothers band and Derek and the Dominos, allman and Clapton formed a deep rapport during an all-night jam session. their mutual love of each other’s playing saw allman participate on most of layla and other assorted love Songs (1970), contributing some of his best-known work. allman never left the allman brothers band, however, despite being offered a permanent position with Clapton.
It was not until the allmans’ live album at Fillmore east (1971) when the band had its artistic and commercial breakthrough. Hailed as one of the finest live albums ever recorded, it contains our featured track as well as seminal jam tracks such as whipping Post and In Memory of elizabeth reed.
the tragic death of Duane in a motorcycle accident that autumn was one of blues’s most untimely and unexpected losses. the band played at his funeral with Dickey betts (no slouch on slide himself) playing Duane’s famed les Paul.
We realised that the audience was a big part of what we did, which couldn’t be duplicated in a studio. A light bulb finally went on: we needed to make a live album. Gregg Allman